Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 26) - Act 26:18Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace 63. Act 26:18 A. "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Act 26:18) B. Does this verse teach that one's eternal forgiveness of sins and inheritance in heaven are contingent on their turning to God and their faith in Him? C. Verse 18 is part of Jesus' ministerial charge to Paul (Act 26:15-18). i. Paul was not disobedient to the commands of Christ (Act 26:19). ii. He did exactly what Jesus told him to and showed both Jew and Gentile that "they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance." (Act 26:20). iii. Repent is a verb, which means it's an action - something that is done. a. Repent v. - 3. intr. To feel contrition, compunction, sorrow or regret for something one has done or left undone; to change one's mind with regard to past action or conduct through dissatisfaction with it or its results. b. Repenting is turning (Act 26:18 c/w Act 26:20). c. Repentance is a work (Mat 12:41 c/w Jonah 3:10). d. True repentance is proven by works (Act 26:20 c/w Mat 3:8). e. The forgiveness and inheritance that these people could receive was conditioned on repentance, which is something they did. f. Work n. - I. 1. Something that is or was done; what a person does or did; an act, deed, proceeding, business g. In addition to their works (their repentance), the apostle Paul also had a hand in their forgiveness, as he was told to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Act 26:18). h. Therefore, the forgiveness and inheritance that these people could receive was conditioned on works (their repentance and Paul's labor). iv. Eternal salvation is not of works (2Ti 1:9; Tit 3:5) (See Section II,7,A on Eternal Salvation. v. Therefore, the forgiveness and inheritance in verse 18 cannot be eternal, but temporal. (See Section II,7,B on Temporal Salvation and Section II,10,B on Temporal Forgiveness) vi. Temporal adj. - 1. Lasting or existing only for a time; passing, temporary. Now rare or merged in 2. 2. Of or pertaining to time as the sphere of human life; terrestrial as opposed to heavenly; of man's present life as distinguished from a future existence; concerning or involving merely the material interests of this world; worldly, earthly. (Opp. to eternal or spiritual.) D. The temporal forgiveness of sins they received (See Mar 1:4 - Section III,15) i. This is the aspect of forgiveness of sins which is conditional in nature and brings the elect into fellowship with God. ii. This is the type of forgiveness that a father would give to a wayward son who repents; it doesn't make one a son, but brings a son into fellowship with his father. iii. This forgiveness is dependent on confessing our sins (1Jo 1:9). iv. This temporal forgiveness of sins is conditioned upon repentance and baptism (Act 2:38) which is accompanied by confession of sins (Mar 1:5). E. The inheritance they received i. There is an eternal inheritance which is by grace alone and is not in any way dependent on works. a. God's elect obtain this eternal inheritance through predestination (Eph 1:11). b. The called (the elect - Rom 8:28-29) have received the promise of eternal inheritance by the death of Christ for their sins (Heb 9:15). c. This eternal inheritance will be fully realized when our bodies are resurrected and enter into the eternal state of glory (Rom 8:11,23). ii. There is also an earthly, temporal aspect of the inheritance which obedient believers possess. a. This temporal inheritance is the inheritance in the kingdom of God (Eph 5:5) (which can be lost due to sin which Eph 5:5 is addressing), which one enters by baptism (Luk 7:29-30 c/w Mat 21:31-32). b. The kingdom of God, in which a baptized believer obtains an inheritance, is the local church (Luk 22:29-30 c/w Heb 12:28). c. This temporal inheritance begins when one believes the gospel and is baptized, whereby they are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14). d. At baptism, one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit when he is added to the local church wherein He dwells (Act 2:38,41-42 c/w 1Co 12:13). e. It is at baptism that one is sealed with the Holy Spirit (Mat 3:16-17 c/w Joh 6:27). f. This sealing of the Holy Spirit is the earnest of our eternal inheritance until the redemption of our body (the purchased possession) which was purchased by Christ (Eph 1:13-14 c/w 1Co 6:19-20). 1. Seal v. - I. To attest by a seal. 1. a. trans. To place a seal upon (a document) as evidence of genuineness, or as a mark of authoritative ratification or approval. 2. Earnest n. - 1. Money, or a sum of money, paid as an installment, esp. for the purpose of securing a bargain or contract. Also fig. A foretaste, installment, pledge, of anything afterwards to be received in greater abundance. 3. We are sealed (given a foretaste) with the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption (Eph 4:30). g. This temporal inheritance can be increased and enhanced as the Christian continues following God through His word (Act 20:32). 1. In Act 20:32, Paul was addressing ordained elders and overseers of the church in Ephesus (Act 20:17,28) who obviously already had an eternal inheritance. 2. Therefore, he was not telling them how to acquire an eternal inheritance. h. This inheritance is experienced among them which are sanctified (Act 26:18; Act 20:32), which is a good description of a local church. i. So the inheritance that the Gentiles, to whom Paul was commanded to preach in Act 26:18, could obtain by repenting and turning to God was a temporal inheritance in the kingdom of God, the church in this world, which penitent believers obtain when they are baptized and are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest (foretaste, down payment) of their eternal inheritance in heaven. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace